QUESTION: My husband left me for a woman from his work when I was two months away from having our second child.
He’s only seen this baby three times in five months. If it wasn’t for my parents, I don’t know how I’d have coped.
My two sons need to see their father and I think his new partner is blocking this.
I can’t make him understand how important it is, and I don’t know what to say to my two-year-old who wants his dad around.
* My husband spends every spare moment gaming
* My ex-boss says I’m poaching her clients and wants to take me to court
* My children are too frightened to sleep after our neighbours got burgled
A reader says she doesn’t know what to say to her two-year-old who wants his dad, who has left to go live with another woman, around.
ANSWER: So, this has happened to you and it’s dismal. So dismal.
You’ll be feeling exhausted with a new baby, a toddler, broken nights and so much to process.
We all have limited energy and resources, so you need to ration your allowance to protect the aspects of your life that are not dismal: your two beautiful children, your parents and yourself.
There’ll be inevitable admin for you to negotiate, the legal stuff, finances etc, and your mind will be spinning about your future and how you’ll manage.
Allow a designated amount of time each day to deal with this stuff, then try to let it go so you don’t spiral into panic.
You’ll sleep better at night if you get daytime exercise, advises Mary-anne Scott.
You’re going to be tied to this man forever through your two children, so accept this and work with it.
You don’t have room in your brain to figure out the dynamics of his new relationship, or to influence his priorities around visiting the children. Don’t let toxic thoughts poison your life and ruin the early years of your children’s lives.
Your children are very young and one day your husband might understand what this business of life is all about, but, in the meantime, focus on your own little unit.
Keep good routines for the children and normal boundaries. Remember that two-year-olds act up – it’s what they do – so try not to put an adult perspective on his behaviour. He’ll miss his Dad if you tell him he’s missing his Dad.
Hunker down with your babies and surround them, and yourself, with love and calm. Have something to look forward to every day. Just breathe and take a day at a time.
Can you get out and walk with the children? You’ll sleep better at night if you get daytime exercise.
Find other mothers to interact with and other women to laugh with; black humour is very healing. It might sound simplistic, but that’s how you’ll get through this – small simple steps.
You’ll get masses of advice, but I’ve heard good things about a book called Parenting with the Ex Factor, by Jill Darcey.
Hang in there, you’re going to be fine.
* Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and written five novels for young adults. As one of seven sisters, there aren’t many parenting problems she hasn’t talked over.
* Please note that Mary-anne is not a trained counsellor. Her advice is not intended to replace that of a professional counsellor or psychologist.
* To send Mary-anne a question, email email@example.com with Dear Mary-anne in the subject line. Your anonymity is assured.